It was finally time. My legs were killing me, my forehead was cooked-lobster red, but, I pushed on to The Top 16. Opening ceremonies in drift events are always a blast due to their nature of burnouts and donuts. However, I feel The Drift League has an exception to this: enthusiasm.
The first battle of the Top 16 kicked off, #1 Qualifier Rome Charpentier leading against #16 Qualifier Tony Cisneros, who won Round 2. Rome made distance immediately, gaining 3-4 car lengths just after initiation. The distance only grew throughout the course, Cisneros gaining back some ground during the bank’s transition, only to lose it around the center hairpin. At it’s widest, the distance grew to 7 or 8 lengths on the last wall.
Unfortunately for Cisneros, the Irwindale luck set its sights on him once more. The same electrical gremlins from before made themselves known once more, forcing Cisneros to retire. Rome made a bye run, taking the win.
Next up #8 Qualifier Don Boline led against #9 Qualifier Carlos C. Estrella. Don initially made distance on the first bank, however Estrella caught up near instantly by the first clipping point. After that, Don simply couldn’t run away, Estrella always on his quarter panel. Additionally, Don couldn’t seem to hold angle, constant adjustments were made mid-slide, which surely knocked off some points.
Next run initially went well for Don. Keeping okay distance on the bank, the 350z driver missed a shift while coming off the bank. Giving Estrella roughly 6 lengths, Don tried his best to make the distance up, even going low on the final wall; however, it wasn’t enough: Carlos took the win, advancing to the next bracket.
After that battle was #4 Qualifier Amanda Sorensen against #13 Qualifier Alfa Ramirez. Amanda led the first round, the gray E46 pulling away from the black and red S12 immediately after initiation.
Unfortunately for Alfa, the distance grew wider as he spun out, fortunately saving it from hitting the wall, but taking a zero on his first run.
The second run saw Alfa leading Sorensen. Unlike Sorensen, Alfa couldn’t break away after initiation; something Amanda took advantage of. In a twist of events, Alfa spun out just a length ahead of Sorensen as they both ran the bank, the teenager letting off the gas to briefly straighten out, and clear the gap above the spinning S12 with no more than inches to spare on either side.
After the dramatic finish to the Sorensen v Ramirez bracket, AJ Muss in his E46 sedan took on Raz Naor in his LSX Evo. Muss led first, putting on a great run while Raz kept great proximity to Muss; though he got no closer than one length, he didn’t fall much further back.